In the great red of sunset the Tyrolese riflemen and a body of Italians in Austrian fatigue uniform marched into the village. These formed in the space before the inn. It seemed as if Count Karl were declaiming an indictment. A voice answered, “I am the man.” It was clear and straight as a voice that goes up in the night. Then a procession walked some paces on. The woman followed. She fell prostrate at the feet of Count Karl. He listened to her and nodded. Rinaldo Guidascarpi stood alone with bandaged eyes. The woman advanced to him; she put her mouth on his ear; there she hung.
Vittoria heard a single shot. Rinaldo Guidascarpi lay stretched upon the ground and the woman stood over him.
EPISODES OF THE REVOLT AND THE WAR
Count Karl Lenkenstein—the story of the Guidascarpi—the victory of the volunteers
The smoke of a pistol-shot thinned away while there was yet silence.
“It is a saving of six charges of Austrian ammunition,” said Pericles.
Vittoria stared at the scene, losing faith in her eyesight. She could in fact see no distinct thing beyond what appeared as an illuminated copper medallion, held at a great distance from her, with a dead man and a towering female figure stamped on it.
The events following were like a rush of water on her senses. There was fighting up the street of the village, and a struggle in the space where Rinaldo had fallen; successive yellowish shots under the rising moonlight, cries from Italian lips, quick words of command from German in Italian, and one sturdy bull’s roar of a voice that called across the tumult to the Austro-Italian soldiery, “Venite fratelli!—come, brothers, come under our banner!” She heard “Rinaldo!” called.
This was a second attack of the volunteers for the rescue of their captured comrades. They fought more desperately than on the hill outside the village: they fought with steel. Shot enfiladed them; yet they bore forward in a scattered body up to that spot where Rinaldo lay, shouting for him. There they turned,—they fled.
Then there was a perfect stillness, succeeding the strife as quickly, Vittoria thought, as a breath yielded succeeds a breath taken.